Post D: Tobacco’s Infiltration in Ambon

China, India and Indonesia, the three leading countries with the highest numbers of smokers are the main targets for large tobacco companies (Nawi N. et al), some of which were frequently seen on the streets of Ambon such as Lucky Strike (light) , Marlboro (Red), Dunhill (mild), Sampoerna (A mild), Djarum Super Mild and L.A Bold. Interestingly enough out of the brands mentioned the most evident in terms of size of billboards and posters were Indonesian. Tobacco plays a huge role in the Indonesian lifestyle and culture, The industry supplies around 10% of all Indonesian tax revenue and employs 2.5 million workers (Nathalia Tjandra, 2018). 

According to Patu Astuti and Becky Freeman Sampoerna is one of the largest tobacco companies operating in Indonesia which has systematically linked a music concert series SoundrenAline, who not only promotes smoking at events but also has reached social media via the hashtag trend, the obvious target audience being the youth to encourage and associate smoking to “music, creativity and self expression” (Astuti, Freeman, 2018) An example of this being the audience were encouraged by the performers and emcee to “go ahead people” which is a popular ‘A’ company (Sampoerna A Mild) tagline for their cigarettes. Upon meeting the mayor of the city Richard Louhanapessy, he came to a decision to refuse all funding from tobacco companies for the city’s music festivals and events. While seeking to become the official city of music through UNESCO will this be possible with the lack of funding and the possibility of little to no music events in the coming future? 

(Dagher, 2019)

Chris McCall interviews 47 year old Yogykartan resident Sambudiono who claims to have smoked since high school, trying to quit once but couldn’t go through with it. Many others like Sambudiono will experience the same struggle if advertisements are not made illegal. (Chris McCall, 2014)

“Like most smokers, Sambudiono does not think he is influenced by cigarette advertising, although he sees it all the time and he has been smoking since he was about 15 years old.” – Chris McCall, 2014

The first walk-about I completed was during midday which spanned the suburbs hidden along side the river up until the Jembatan Merah Putih bridge. Regardless of area, house, apartment building or grocery store there was a consistent presence of tobacco advertisements within the communities. While observing I tracked the amount of posters per alleyway or street, amount of smokers (male/female) and whether the smokers were indoors or outdoors. Many of the posters and banners were used as material for shelters, matts and even table cloths, I think these are just some of the few ways tobacco companies are physically infiltrating Ambon’s streets. Although there has been some initiatives to reduce advertisements and smoking in public areas it is not enough, the city of Ambon facilitates smokers instead of deterring them from smoking


  • Nawi Ng L., Weinehall A.Ohman, 20 Sep 2006, ‘If I don’t Smoke, I’m not a real man’—Indonesian teenage boys’ views about smoking Health Education Research’, Volume 22, Issue 6, 1 December 2007, Pages 794–804, Viewed 15 Jan 2019.
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